The word is out – people are increasingly falling back in love with greenery. The interest in gardening has doubled as we’re trying to get back in touch with nature and find some tranquillity through this wonderful hobby. But this rising interest in home-grown vegetation is really much more than just a hobby. We’re looking for ways to contribute to the health of our planet as individuals, and what better way to do this than by growing nature’s own air filtration systems! Our individual efforts are in fact a reflection of what landscape designers and scientists have been teaching us for years. As we’ve grown extremely aware of how plants can help filter out pollution and aid ozone layer recovery while generally having a soothing effect on our own bodies, we’re embracing the spread of greenery beyond the garden – that is, in all places, forms and directions.
Inside the home
Houseplants were always a great way to decorate and freshen up any living space. But a recent study is showing they could be a dire necessity for our overall well-being.
Most buildings and houses have high levels of volatile organic compounds, such as acetone, formaldehyde and benzene, coming from paint, furniture, cleaning supplies etc. These indoor pollutants can cause short and long-term harm and symptoms of illness for humans, so ventilation systems must be installed to filter air. However, the study’s results suggest there’s a cheap and simple alternative to purifying the air from VCOs – house plants! Research has shown that the following plants have given best results at removing certain volatile organic compounds:
- The Jade plant, a funky succulent, is the best at removing toluene (a volatile organic compound found in paint thinners and adhesives).
- The spider plant: removing ethyl-benzene, p-Xylene, o-Xylene
- Dracaena: removing acetone
The Caribbean tree cactus removed all of the previously mentioned VCOs, plus benzene.
The Bromeliad plant proved to be the most effective overall, removing the mentioned compounds in largest amounts.
They’ve been getting a lot of attention for a while now, and for a good reason – roofs are opportune spaces to increase greenery, create a new habitat and improve air quality, among other numerous benefits. The smart cities of the future are expected to have green roofs wherever possible, as this is becoming common practice among architecture and landscaping firms. Better yet, you can jump ahead and “green-up” your own roof as an amateur.
As we’ve mentioned, landscaping is spreading in all places, forms and directions. Greenery inside the home, provided by potted plants, represents dotted landscaping, green roofs are horizontally planar, and lastly we have gardens in the form of vertical planes – green walls. Vertical gardens are a great way to improve air quality without taking up space, plus, the plants serve as great sound mufflers. They’re rising in popularity as people find a variety of creative ways to incorporate vertical greenery in and out of their homes – with pot racks, recycled materials, wall planters and pockets, etc. They make for really great eco-conscious DIY projects with beautiful results, aiding both physical and mental health. Also, with the growing innovation of various hoses and connectors, vertical gardens are much easier to maintain now than before – no ladders or acrobatics involved. On the more professional side, architects are experimenting with the idea of pushing gardens out to the facades of buildings to emphasize lush greenery along a vertical array, as can be seen on Jean Nouvel’s design for the Rosewood Tower in the historic district of Sao Paulo.
Our cities and homes are becoming greener each day, and we’re finding creative ways to bring plants into our built environment. It’s a really wonderful new chapter in lifestyle and urbanisation, as going green is proving to be a long-standing principle of today’s society.
Cheers to that.